I know I haven't put anything down in awhile, but it seems to me that my stained glass business is in a much different place than when I first started this blog. Back then I was talking about being 'covered up' and now it's as if someone threw a switch about a year ago and turned off my business. I've had a few small jobs that make me keep the doors open but really, It's never been this dry in over 20 years.
I'm sure it's because Stained Glass is so dependent on the housing market and of course that's collapsed completely. And also when it's time to cut back on expenses well, who really needs the stuff I make anyway.
And that has always been the source of a certain amount of ambivalence on my part. As a carpenter I always knew that I was providing a necessary service. It's a noble profession, hell, Jesus was a carpenter. But no one in the bible, or anywhere else in literature as far as I can tell, was a Stained Glass artisan.
Of course I'm an artist, but I've never had that consuming artistic fire, that "I would die for my art!" attitude. It's always been something I enjoyed doing and was good at but I never felt I had anything to "say" in art.
And Stained Glass artisans, with a few - very few actually - notable exceptions, are decorative artists at best. We decorate homes. We are often charged with reproducing a beloved scene, or a quilt pattern, or perhaps a family pet. We are constantly being constrained to match the carpet or the sofa or the bedspread for God's sake. The first time I was given free rein to design a transom to suit the home owner's personality, I was so intoxicated with the prospect that I was frozen into immobility for a time. OK, I know this only happens to us in the lower ranks; Narcissus Quagliata probably never gets the "Oh and I love peach, could you put some peach in it?" rap.
But really this feeling that what I was producing was essentially landfill was at it's peak during art festival season. Now, we never did a lot of art shows 4 or maybe 5 a year at the most. But the stuff we had to crank out just depressed the hell out of me. In order to hit those price points below $30 we had to produce simple designs with few pieces that could be cranked out like an assembly line. I was always trying to reduce the number of cuts, usually degrading the design in order to keep pieces affordable. We never really got into the little suction cup sun catchers but still...
Well now our situation has changed dramatically; we're much more financially secure and no longer do the art show circuit - thank God - and I'm looking to find a way to only do jobs that interest me. (not sure exactly how to go about that, can I just sniff and tell a client "So sorry, old chum, but this project bores me?") We have a few pieces in the Kentucky Artisan's Center in Berea and when - and if - the bug to produce items on spec hits I'll look to galleries to sell my work.